Ship of Fools
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The first person the audience sees in Ship of Fools is dwarf Michael Dunn, who speaks to viewers directly and acts as a Greek chorus throughout the film. It begins on the deck of an ocean liner travelling from Vera Cruz to Bremerhaven. The time is the 1930s, so close and yet so far from war. The cross-section of humanity on board includes ship's doctor Oscar Werner, Spanish political activist Simone Signoret, aging coquette Vivien Leigh, hedonistic baseball player Lee Marvin, philosophical Jew Heinz Ruhmann, a smattering of pro- and anti-Hitlerites (Jose Ferrer plays the nastiest and most… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Director-producer Stanley Kramer and scenarist Abby Mann have distilled the essence of Katherine Anne Porter's bulky novel in a film that appeals to the intellect and the emotions."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"As glib as Stanley Kramer often is, there is probably nothing glibber in his entire output than this Abby Mann adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The black-and-white overlong, dated and uneven film, a less than endearing talk-fest, is rescued from drowning in a sea of words by its fine cast."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It makes for OK drama all the same, but it's all on the heavy-handed side. Well, subtlety was never Kramer's strong suit."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Don't look now, but as you might expect with message-mad Kramer at the helm of this adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel, there's a heavy allegory aboard."
‑ Tom Milne, Time Out
"Superb acting in an Abby Mann script that seldom descends into bathos."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"All-star cast in ultimately grim tale."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
"Werner and Signoret were wonderful, and deserved their nominations."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"A powerful, ironic film."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"Prestigious and literary cinema at its most ponderous, transfer of Porter's novel to the the big screen by Kramer (the wrong director) is crude and pretentious, but some of the performances, particularly Signoret, Leigh and Dunn, are good."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"The film's interest lies in the excellent cast."
‑ , Film4
More reviews for Ship of Fools on Rotten Tomatoes